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· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
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These are my thoughts based on how I feel:

If we are talking about sound, there is nothing more important for your sound aside from a great playing reed, than your mouthpiece.

If we are talking about becoming a better player with better technique, vocabulary, ideas, and individuality....that comes from hard practice. Your gear can’t replace hard practice.

Your gear will INSPIRE you, which will hopefully lead to more practice, and lead to you becoming a better player.
Happiness plays such a big role in what we do, and you need to seek that out.

You cannot buy chops in a box by getting a new mouthpiece or new horn. Gear will allow you to feel more comfortable based on what you are looking for in terms of sound and feel for yourself, but cannot replace hard practice.

Sound and technique are not the same thing.
You cannot buy better technique. You have to put in the time and work really hard with your practicing. There is no way around that.
You can however, buy a sound you like better INSTANTLY for yourself, with a different mouthpiece.

Playing with a set up that inspires you, makes it all enjoyable. Once you have the set up that is incredibly inspiring for you, there is no need to spend more time seeking out different gear. Stay with what you have if it is so inspiring, and focus on the music.
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
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17,601 Posts
I couldn’t agree with you more!!!!
I’ve been pounding the reed thing to players for years and years and years.
It’s on my website and it’s the most important factor, for sure. Feel, response, articulation, tonal color, etc.
I tell everyone that players who get the most out of mouthpieces, are the ones that spend time with different brands of reeds so they can dial in what they are looking for in terms of all those things I just mentioned. Nothing more important. Experimenting with reeds is crucial, especially if you try a lot of different mouthpieces. If you have one or two that you use all the time and nothing else, you just need to go through the experimenting until you find what you want and then you can stick with that. If you do try a lot of mouthpieces, it would be beneficial to have a lot of reeds around so you can zone in what you want from each mouthpiece.
You are right on with the importance of reeds.
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
Joined
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17,601 Posts
Vanadiel,
Thank you so much. I can design mouthpieces from tons of Proto typing, but the craftsman end of it is not my cup of tea. I can’t take any credit for that.... I’ve got the best guy doing my pieces right now and all I can say is thank God for that! I’m very grateful that things have fallen into place so well after letting go of Eric.
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
Joined
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17,601 Posts
In the end, we all leave this earth, so make your time here how YOU want it to be.
Its YOUR story, and YOU write the book.
What anyone else says is irrelevant, unless you make it relevant.
Have fun doing it YOUR way.
Follow your passion always.
All the best,
Mark
 

· VENDOR "Innovation over imitation"
Joined
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17,601 Posts
To answer your question, 95% of my income comes from teaching. Since 2007 I have written 15 books and made over 600+ video lessons on jazz and saxophone. A few years ago, I decided I was wasting too much time and money reviewing mouthpieces. Some I would buy and lose money on the resale, many I would be stuck paying for shipping and the cost of reeds which was and is ridiculous. I decided to start asking to keep the mouthpieces I review as I saw that that is what other review sites did. Selling a used a mouthpiece once a week that I reviewed is in no way making me rich. If anything, I'm just trying to keep my site costs covered by it. I do not have a cheap site on godaddy or hostgator. The costs can add up to run a site that is fast and doesn't crash all the time.

The reason I do what I do is passion and love. Trust me, it is not money or I would be doing something else. Probably anything else. I love playing the saxophone. I love teaching the saxophone. I love trying new saxophone gear. I don't think that is evil or that I am ruining the future of jazz saxophone. I have some containers in my office with my mouthpieces. Yesterday, I took out my Barone SNY, my Barone Jazz JB (I think you said that was Bronze), a few Links and some other mouthpieces I have. I have other pieces in that box as well all separated and protected by cushioning. All these pieces are important to me. Not for the money, not for the collection. They are important to me for the feeling I get when I put them on my sax and play them. They are all different. The tone is different, the response is different, the intonation is different, the brightness and darkness is different. When I put one of these pieces on with a great reed I am in heaven. That's what excites me. That's what fuels this journey I am on. I am like you in that it's not about the money. I just need enough to get by and sometimes I have to sell some mouthpieces and run some sales to pay my bills that month.

The fact that you are implying that it's about the money hurts my feelings honestly. But maybe that is because all you look at on my site is the mouthpiece review side of it and haven't watched my teaching videos. I am not the best player in the world or even the best teacher but I am passionate about the saxophone and music. I have been told by students that that comes across quite often in my lesson videos and it cracks them up. I enjoy what I am doing and although my wife keeps pressuring me to leave music behind and pursue something more sustainable in my older years, I keep clinging to it. I can't let it go, it has consumed me since 7th grade and probably until I die.

I respect you, and appreciate your contribution to the saxophone world immensely. I might disagree with some of your opinions at times but that is life. I totally agree with you about being in the practice room and progressing musically but I have also had many adult students who's hobby is to collect Selmer saxophone and buy every great mouthpiece they can find. Hey, if that is what you're into, go for it.

(Actually, now that I think about it, maybe this all stems from my childhood. I had a stamp collection, a rock collection, a coin collection, a comic book collection, etc.......maybe some of us are just wired genetically to be collectors. Who knows?? Haha!)
Beautifully said. Right from the heart.
 
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